Egypt opens Gaza border for two days

A Palestinian woman takes part in a protest calling for the Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah Border Crossing in the southern Gaza Strip on March 22, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 23 March 2018

Egypt opens Gaza border for two days

GAZA CITY: Egypt opened its largely sealed border with the Gaza Strip on Friday for two days, Palestinian authorities said.
In just the third such opening this year, the crossing between the Palestinian enclave and Egypt’s Sinai region will be open Friday and Saturday for humanitarian cases, the Palestinian embassy in Cairo said.
The Rafah crossing is the only exit for Gaza residents except into Israel, but Egypt has largely sealed it in recent years, citing security threats.
Egyptian authorities have a poor relationship with Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas, whom they have accused of supporting attacks inside Egypt.
Both of the two previous border openings this year were cut short due to the security situation in Sinai.
The Egyptian army and police forces are engaged in a fierce conflict with armed Islamists, especially in the North Sinai governorate where an Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State is active.
Hundreds have been killed on both sides.
For more than a decade, Israel has imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza that critics say amounts to collective punishment of the coastal territory’s two million Palestinian residents.
Israel says the blockade is necessary to isolate Hamas, with which it has fought three wars since 2008.
Egypt has also kept the Rafah crossing largely closed for several years.
In October, Egypt brokered a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah, the party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, that was supposed to see the Islamists give up power in Gaza.
But the deal has collapsed, with the two Palestinian groups trading blame.


Grace 1 tanker raises Iranian flag, changes name to ‘Adrian Darya-1’

Updated 16 min 56 sec ago

Grace 1 tanker raises Iranian flag, changes name to ‘Adrian Darya-1’

  • British Royal Marines seized the vessel in Gibraltar in July on suspicion that it was carrying oil to Syria
  • Gibraltar lifted a detention order on the vessel on Thursday but its fate was further complicated by the US

GIBRALTAR: An Iranian tanker caught in a stand-off between Tehran and the West has raised an Iranian flag and has had a new name painted on its side, Reuters images of the stationary vessel filmed off Gibraltar showed on Sunday.
British Royal Marines seized the vessel in Gibraltar in July on suspicion that it was carrying oil to Syria, a close ally of Iran, in violation of European Union sanctions.
Video footage and photographs showed the tanker flying the red, green and white flag of Iran and bearing the new name of ‘Adrian Darya-1’ painted in white on its hull. Its previous name, ‘Grace 1’, had been painted over. The vessel’s anchor was still down.
The Grace 1 had originally flown the Panamian flag but Panama’s Maritime Authority said in July that the vessel had been de-listed after an alert that indicated the ship had participated in or was linked to terrorism financing.
Gibraltar lifted a detention order on the vessel on Thursday but its fate was further complicated by the United States, which made a last-ditch legal appeal to hold it.
The initial impounding of the Grace 1 kicked off a sequence of events that saw Tehran seize a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf two weeks later, heightening tension on a vital international oil shipping route.
That tanker, the Stena Impero, is still detained.
The two vessels have since become pawns in a bigger game, feeding into wider hostilities since the United States last year pulled out of an international agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program, and reimposed economic sanctions.